2 Dec 2022

The Bay Psalm Book of 1640

For Christmas 2009 my wife gave me a copy of the 1903 facsimile edition of the Bay Psalm Book of 1640, the first book to be published in the English-speaking colonies in the New World. Although I mentioned it briefly in this blog at the time, I did not comment any further on the volume. Given that it is nearly 120 years old, it is in remarkably good condition, although only one side survives of the open-ended box it came in. An introduction to this edition was written by one Wilberforce Eames (1855-1937), a self-taught librarian and scholar known as the "Dean of American Bibliographers."

30 Nov 2022

A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma

My recent post on The Canterbury Trail: worship and reformation has been translated into Portuguese and posted at Lecionário: A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma. An excerpt follows the Portuguese translation immediately below.

Meu post recente sobre The Canterbury Trail: worship and reformation foi traduzido para o português e postado no Lecionário: A Trilha de Cantuária: culto e reforma. Um trecho:

Webber não me levou ao anglicanismo per se, muito menos a uma comunhão anglicana, uma invenção de meados do século XIX. Mas ler seus livros me ajudou a entender que até alguns dos reformadores do século 16 erraram, especialmente no que diz respeito às liturgias históricas da Igreja. Em qualquer esforço para reformar a igreja, os pretensos reformadores devem diferenciar entre o que pertence legitimamente à tradição da qual são herdeiros e o que são acréscimos antibíblicos. Isso requer conhecimento de como era a igreja antiga e como ela adorava o Deus trino. Infelizmente, os reformadores não tiveram acesso às fontes mais antigas que conhecemos hoje.

Leia o artigo inteiro aqui.

24 Nov 2022

Psalms of Grace: another congregational psalter project

The Rev. John F. MacArthur is the long-time pastor of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, USA and has a radio and television ministry called Grace to You. After decades of ministry, he and his congregation now have an interest in incorporating sung psalmody into their liturgy. Here is MacArthur talking about their newly produced metrical psalter: Pastor John MacArthur Talks About Psalms of Grace. I hope to obtain a copy of this collection at some point.

17 Nov 2022

Good news and appeal for help

A sample of our work (click to enlarge)
As promised, I am privileged to share some good news concerning my Genevan Psalter project of which some of you may already be aware. I was recently informed by the Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust that I have been awarded a second grant of CDN$2,200 enabling me to hire Michael Owens to format my texts for the Psalms to the Genevan melodies as arranged by Jacques Pierre Bekkers and Jacob Kort in preparation for publication. This comes the year after an earlier award of the same amount from the Reid Trust. I am grateful for this concrete expression of confidence in my ongoing work. However, we are still short approximately CDN$3,500 of the total cost of this work.

Thus we need your help. If you would be interested in making a financial contribution to completing this project, please make your donation via Global Scholars Canada. GSC's page for giving can be found here. Once you are in the page, scroll down to the heading marked DONATION DETAILS, and then choose one of the options under FUND. Americans may donate through our sister organization in the US. Please let me know if you have contributed, and I will be pleased to acknowledge you in the published psalter, unless you prefer otherwise.

Thank you so much!

15 Nov 2022

Praise God in his sanctuary: recovering the Psalms

Although evangelical protestants stopped singing the Psalms some two centuries ago, there is so much good news to share with respect to efforts to reverse this sad trend. Here is a recap, along with the promise of fresh news which I will share later this week:

  1. I have been heartened to see evangelical Christians in Romania acquiring an enthusiasm for singing the Psalms in their liturgies. The Dorz/Moldoveanu Psalter represents a considerable amount of work to make the Psalms accessible to ordinary Christians as they worship the triune God in their sanctuaries. That this is occurring within one of the heartlands of Orthodoxy is remarkable.
  2. As reported in Christianity Today, and as I pointed out below, Jesse and Leah Roberts, who call themselves Poor Bishop Hooper, recently completed their composition and performance of music to which we might sing the Psalms.
  3. This year Michael Owens published his encyclopædic Treasury of Psalms and Hymns, Revised, containing all 150 Psalms and so much more.
  4. Also this year, a Spanish-language edition of the Genevan Psalter was revised and republished, putting sung psalmody in the hands of the huge numbers of speakers of this language around the world.
  5. Then there is Psalms for the Church, the project of a single independent congregation, Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida. Imagine if all the independent evangelical congregations in North America were to use this treasury!
  6. And, of course, we have the wonderful through-composed Psalms of David Erb at New Saint Andrew's College.
  7. I will soon have good news to share about my own Genevan Psalter project, which represents a decades-long effort to put this historic psalter into the hands of English-speaking Christians around the world.

I pray for the day when every church congregation in every tradition sings the biblical Psalms simply as a matter of course. When that day arrives, it will no longer be a matter of whether to sing the Psalms but rather of how to sing them. And there will be a lot to choose from. May the Lord hasten the arrival of this day.

St. Bonaventure's adaptation of the Psalms

St. Bonaventure
I recently discovered something called the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ascribed to the 13th-century Italian bishop and theologian St. Bonaventure. It consists of a reworking of the biblical Psalms to emphasize Mary. For example, Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man that cherishes thy name, Virgin Mary, thy grace will strengthen his soul. As a garden watered by springs of living water, thou wilt multiply in that soul the sweetest fruits of justice.

The archived version I linked to above was translated and edited by the Rev. John Cumming, DD, and published by the British Reformation Society in 1852. If such material seems an odd fit for the publisher, we need only read Cumming's preface for his motive in bringing it into print in the English language:

14 Nov 2022

Poor Bishop Hooper's Everypsalm project

Christianity Today carries an article about the completion of one couple's pandemic-era project to sing through all the psalms and post them on their YouTube channel: 150 Weeks of Composing Psalms Reaches Its Finale. An excerpt:

For the past three years, Jesse and Leah Roberts—who perform as the duo Poor Bishop Hooper—have sung every word of every psalm and are hoping to help revive widespread interest in the singing of Scripture. . . .

For the past three years, the Psalms have been musical and spiritual sustenance for the Robertses. Since January 2020, they have written an original song every week, releasing the new recordings Wednesdays on YouTube and music streaming sites.

They finish their collection of musical settings for the psalms with Psalm 150, which releases on November 9. The modern-day psalter is meant as a resource for Christians and churches.

The Robertses' Everypsalm project can be found here. Their YouTube channel is here: Poor Bishop Hooper.

Here is the project finale: Psalm 150:

8 Nov 2022

Psalm 23 (Moldoveanu) in English

After hearing a Romanian congregation singing the Traian Dorz/Nicolae Moldoveanu version of Psalm 23, I decided to come up with an English version to fit Moldoveanu's music. Here it is:

31 Oct 2022

The Canterbury Trail: worship and reformation

Robert Webber
Modern Reformation recently published an article by Gillis Harp with a very long title: Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Anglicanism Nearly 40 Years After Webber’s Classic. Although I am not an Anglican, I read Robert Webber's book, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church, and I found myself deeply sympathetic to his concerns. In fact, I have worshipped in Anglican and Episcopal churches at various times throughout my life, most recently between 2003 and 2008 when our family attended regularly the Church of St. John the Evangelist here in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

I did not know Webber very well personally, although I grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, home of Wheaton College, where he taught for many years. But he was a colleague of my wife, who was a faculty member in the same department for six years, and he was a guest at our wedding. I also contributed at least two articles to his Complete Library of Christian Worship. What drew many Christians to his project to recover the ancient glories of Christian worship was a recognition of the superficiality of their own traditions. As Harp observes,

27 Oct 2022

How to read the cursing Psalms

William Eby has posted something in First Things today that has relevance to my own interests in this blog: How to read the cursing Psalms. An excerpt:

For Christians, the Cursing Psalms raise a further difficulty: Within the Christian mind, the words of the psalms and the voice of Christ often converge. The Gospel writers frequently interpose the words of the psalms into the mouth of their Savior, who most famously quotes Psalm 22 at the hour of his death: “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” Like the Psalmist in Psalm 69, Christ is given vinegar and gall to drink while on the cross (Matt. 27:33). However, he then expresses the opposite sentiment of the psalm: He petitions his Father to have mercy on his executioners.

How are we, then, to understand these words coming out the mouth of a righteous disciple of the Law of Moses, and how are we to understand them as coming out of the mouth of the most Holy Son?

Read here for the author's answer. My own approach to these Psalms can be found here: God as judge: praying the imprecatory Psalms.

26 Oct 2022

Psalm/Psalmul 130

Another gem from the Dorz/Moldoveanu Psalter, recently republished in a new edition: Psalmul 130 la Conferința "Cântați lui Dumnezeu Psalmi". This was sung at the Psalm conference in Oradea, Romania, a few weeks ago.

19 Oct 2022

Daily Prayer: current pattern

Since I was a young man, I have followed the ancient western pattern of daily prayer associated with the Benedictines, known as the daily office. I first encountered this pattern in Herbert Lindemann's The Daily Office, published in 1965 by Concordia, the publishing arm of the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod. You can read some of this story here: Daily prayer: a new pattern. Although I have maintained this basic pattern for decades, I have occasionally changed some of its elements, such as putting aside the Daily Office Lectionary for a lectio continua approach to the Scriptures. The Psalms are at the very centre of daily prayer. Accordingly, I follow the 30-day schedule for praying through the Psalms as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer's Psalter. As of today, I am in the book of James at morning prayer and in Joshua at evening prayer. Here is the pattern of morning and evening prayer I am following at present:

The Phos Ilaron, "O Gladsome Light," is an ancient Greek hymn possibly dating back to the 3rd century AD. It is thought to be the oldest Christian hymn still in use today.

11 Oct 2022

Psalm/Psalmu 42

Of all the tunes I've heard from the Dorz/Moldoveanu Romanian metrical psalter, I find the tune for Psalm 42 the most haunting. See what you think.

Psalm/Psalmul 134

10 Oct 2022

El canto de los salmos en el siglo XVI

Un video sobre el Salterio de Ginebra en español:

Contrariamente a la narración, el Salterio se completó en 1562, no en 1564. La música es del Salmo 2.

A video on the Genevan Psalter in Spanish. The music is from Psalm 2. Contrary to the narration, the Psalter was completed in 1562, not 1564. An excerpt from the script: "The Calvinists would sing the Psalms freely not only in their churches but also in the homes and workplaces, in the streets and in the field."

6 Oct 2022

Psalm/Psalmul 19 in Romanian

Our Romanian brothers and sisters are still busily posting performances of the Moldoveanu/Dorz metrical Psalms on the Psalmii Cântați YouTube channel. The most recent is Psalm 19:

4 Oct 2022

Links to Genevan and Sternhold & Hopkins Psalters

I have placed in the right sidebar links to Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise, par Clement Marot, & Theodore de Beze, that is, a scanned copy of the first complete edition of the 1562 Genevan Psalter, and to The Whole Book of Psalms collected into English metre, better known as the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter, also completed in 1562. These are, of course, the two major metrical psalters that would come to influence continental Europe and the English-speaking world respectively. In fact, some scholars believe that Thomas Sternhold (1500-1549) virtually invented ballad metre, or what our hymnals call common metre (CM), consisting of alternating iambic lines of eight and six syllables. Ballad metre became the standard for successive metrical psalters, including Tate & Brady's "New Version" Psalter of 1696 and the Scottish Psalter of 1650.

3 Oct 2022

Psalm conference: Oradea, Romania

This past weekend, the long anticipated Psalm conference took place in Oradea, Romania, coinciding with the republication of Cântările Psalmilor, containing the versified texts of Traian Dorz and the music of Nicolae Moldoveanu. If you understand any of the western romance languages, you may be able to pick out bits of these lectures and discussions, but do listen to the music, which is an international language.

Book of Common Prayer: Miles Coverdale's Psalter

Two months ago I acquired a copy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: International Edition, which was recently published by InterVarsity Press. Although there were earlier editions of the BCP published in 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1604, the 1662 became the standard Prayer Book enduring throughout subsequent centuries in the Church of England and in the other Anglican provinces around the globe. This edition was adopted two years after the restoration of the Stuarts to the thrones of the three kingdoms under King Charles II, and it represents the definitive version of the BCP, coming at the end of a period of intense civil strife and religious turmoil.

The heart of the BCP is, of course, the 150 Psalms. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who was responsible for the first BCP during the reign of the boy king, Edward VI, combined the monastic prayer offices used throughout the day into the two offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, which are found at the beginning of the volume. He organized the Psalms to be prayed through in their canonical order every thirty days at these two prayer offices. Last month I followed this schedule and used the Psalms in this volume, as translated by Miles Coverdale. Unlike the King James Version, which was translated from the Hebrew, Coverdale translated the Psalms from the Latin Vulgate and from Luther's German Bible.